LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The Power Rangers aren't mine, they're Saban's, etc., etc., we all know what this part should say. This fanfic takes place in the Zeo era, before Billy graduated high school early and before the Gold Ranger saga ever occurred. This fanfic is the first in my new "Gifts of the Avatars" series. It's a rewrite. . .and IMHO, a much improved one, of a short fic I did that turned out to be a complete piece of ****. Hope you enjoy this one much better; I know I do!!
They could never understand what he was going through. Who could? Jason, Zack, Trini, Kim, Aisha. They'd all just given up their powers and went on to something else with their lives. The first three to Switzerland, Kim to Florida, Aisha to Africa. What did he do? Turn down the chance at the Zeo Crystal and hang around the Power Chamber all day and half the night, trying to figure out how to work with this new place. It was much the same technology as the Command Center had been, but still things were different, in different places, upgraded in some, others gone entirely.
He shrugged to himself. He'd made his choice, but why did he regret it so much? Why did he sometimes wonder why he'd done it? Was it just because of what he'd went through with the Alien Rangers, being on the sidelines? Or was it something more?
Was he just not up to it anymore? Did he not have what it took to be a Power Ranger? He really didn't know anymore, it seemed. His reasons, which had seemed so clear in the aftermath of the Command Center explosions, now seemed paltry and weak when compared to what his friends did. Oh, sure, he'd made the Zeo Battle Helmets for them, and the Zeo Zords. But that was it. That was all he did, make things. Maybe that had been enough in the beginning, and before he'd been a Ranger, it had seemed that was all he'd ever do. But now. . .
"I want more," he whispered to himself. "I don't know what kind of more I want, but I want it."
But there was no more, he knew that in his heart. Not for him, unless something happened to one of his friends. And as lonely for the power and for the responsibility, the sheer joy of being a Ranger he was, he wouldn't wish that on any of them. He simply wouldn't.
So he compensated with building things for them to use in battles, with keeping the Power Chamber running, with staying away from fights with Cogs, though thankfully he didn't have to worry about those much. They never seemed to attack when he was around the Rangers. Not that he was around them as much as he used to be.
Things had been so easy when he was a Ranger, at least for him. An attack, they morphed, sometimes he had to use a gadget to neutralize the monster's special power, then the monster was grown to giant-size, they called their Zords, and proceeded to kick monster tail. These days, when a monster attacked, the others morphed, he went to the Power Chamber and analyzed the thing to see if he was needed to do anything for it. When he wasn't, he waited to see what was going to happen next. Waited practically terrified to see what was going to happen to his friends.
He found himself walking alone a lot these days. Or nights, rather. He spent his days in the Power Chamber, or hanging out at the Youth Center infrequently. His nights were free. He didn't sleep much; he'd trained himself not to need more than three or four hours a night. He had more time to think now that he wasn't a Ranger.
Make up your mind, Cranston! he told himself. Are you glad you gave up the power or upset over it? Do you envy your friends for being Rangers still, or pity them?
The realization that swept over him stunned him.
He didn't know. * * *
He kept on walking. There really didn't seem to be much else he could do but walk. He didn't want to sleep, he most certainly didn't want to talk to anyone. All he wanted to do was find some sort of ending to the confusion that reigned within him. Envy, pity, hate, fear, worry, all of those gnawed at him and more. If walking was what it took to get those things out of him, then walk he would, until the end of time if need be.
Billy glanced down at his feet, watching half in a trance as one fell in front of the other over and over again. He hadn't watched himself walk in years, not since he was a little boy, and he found a strange sort of pleasure in doing it again. It didn't register on his mind for almost ten minutes that he was no longer on the street he had been on.
Huh? What happened? he glanced around, shocked to realize that instead of being in the heart of Angel Grove, as he should have been, he was in the middle of the woods. There aren't any woods this near to where I was. I haven't been walking THAT long, have I? A quick check of his watch was no help; the digital readout had faded completely, and he knew that the batteries were new; he'd just replaced them that same day!
"Something's going on here, and I don't like it," he murmured to himself. "I'd better get out of here, this is probably some trick of Mondo's."
Billy hit the button on his communicator, and felt his heart sink as nothing happened. I KNOW my communicator's in perfect order, I checked everything today, I always check everything before I go out, and it was working just FINE! What is going ON here?
He turned around at once, intending to march right back to Angel Grove before anything happened to him. If he couldn't teleport, then communications were probably down too, which meant he'd be on his own if Mondo did attack. He'd be easy prey, and Billy had a very healthy respect for the Machine King's Cogs. There was no way he'd be able to fight them off on his own.
His eyes went wide in disbelief at what he saw. Not a parade of Cogs, not a monster ready to tear him apart, nothing like that at all. He saw. . .
A house. * * *
A house? Here? There shouldn't be any houses here!? Wait a second, maybe I should find out where here IS before I start deciding on whether or not there should be a house! Billy stared at the structure, heart pounding.
It wasn't a place that inspired fear; on the contrary, it was rather homey-looking. It was small, with flowers growing all around it, and vines curling sweetly around the windows and door. There was a small window set just to the right of the door, which glowed with a flickering light the back of his mind identified as candlelight.
Even as he stared at it, the cottage door swung open and a tall figure stood framed in the doorway. With the light behind them, he couldn't see if it was a man or woman, but out of sheer survival instinct, he began to back away.
"You have no need to fear me, young warrior of the Light," the voice was low, sweet, musical, and most definitely feminine. "I will do you no harm."
He stood where he was. "Who are you?" he dared to ask, his curiosity, as it always had, overcoming his fear.
"My name is Kala," she bowed slightly. "Kala Alyana. Please, feel free to enter my home, I will do you no harm. It was I who diverted you from your usual path in order to speak with you this night."
"You did?" his eyes widened. "How?"
Kala chuckled softly. "I am capable of many things, my dear former Blue Ranger. Please, enter. In the name of the Forces of Goodness, I will harm you not."
Billy felt a flicker of memory; of Zordon telling him something once. Those who swear in the name of the Forces of Goodness can be trusted, always. He nodded briefly to himself, and headed for Kala's cottage. * * *
"You are confused over giving up your powers, young Billy," Kala said bluntly as he sat down beside a crackling fire. "You wish you had not, yet you are at the same time you wish you had done it sooner."
He blinked a little. "How did you know that?"
"As I said, I am capable of many things. One of which is knowing that which is in the mind. That is one of the reasons I brought you to me. That you might come to understand the emotions and feelings that are at war within you. You seek peace, a peace that I cannot give you. But I may be able to help you find it."
Billy was silent for a few moments, then the words started to pour out of him. "I'm terrified of somehow being caught without the others, and being used against them. Of knowing that I could have been a Ranger, but that I deliberately turned it down. I'm no longer certain if I did it because of what I told them, that I felt it was time to pass the power to someone else, or if I was just too scared to go on anymore, or if it was the wrong choice in the first place. I'm scared if I had the chance to be a Ranger again that I'd turn it down, or worse, get it again. To be put back in the line of fire, to be back in the action, they're two sides of the same coin, really.
"And it scares me to see my friends going out into battle, and to think that I did that for two years, with the same sort of confidence even Tanya has, and she's only been on the team about six months now. I look at them, and I think, how in the world did we do that, how are they still like that after all we went through? We saw the Command Center destroyed, we almost died, and they keep going.
"Then it occurs to me that they show the real courage, they didn't quit when things got tough, they got the Zeo Crystal powers, and kept on. And I didn't. I could have. But I didn't. Was I too scared? Did I wimp out when things got really tough? Did the thought of machines, of things like what I build, attacking scare me so badly that I quit the fighting? Or was it that I thought because I'm so technically minded I could fight them better behind the scenes?
"And I was the last of the original Rangers, too. All the others have left. Kim, Jason, Trini, Zack, they all left. Tommy's still there, but he wasn't one of the ones that was picked on that first day. I still remember that day, I was absolutely terrified of the Putties, and Goldar, but we still did what we had to do.
"Then losing the DinoZords to Zedd," he shuddered at that memory. "And losing the ThunderZords to Rito, and our first powers," he bit his lip. "Then when time was turned back, we lost the NinjaZords and the ShogunZords. I felt like everything we'd worked for was gone in the blink of an eye. I felt like dying, really, when I saw Rita and Zedd destroying the Power Coins. I felt like part of me died."
"It did," Kala said softly. "A part of you did die when that happened."
Billy looked up at her; he'd spoken the whole time to the patterned tiles that covered the cottage floor. "What do you mean?"
Kala gestured towards the fire, and as he looked into it, Billy saw again that fateful day. But this time he saw it from outside his own body. This time, he saw how the other Rangers had looked. Each of them had the same look of loss and despair, that went far beyond what merely losing their powers could ever mean. "Ninjor bound your powers and Power Coins into your life-forces. With the Coins destroyed, that bond was shattered, and you each lost a certain amount of life force."
Billy's eyes widened. "You mean. . ."
"No," she shook her head lightly. "Your friends are not dying because of the Zeo Crystal. The touch of it restored their life force and eased the pain of the loss of the Coins."
"What about me?" the words escaped his lips before he could hold them back. "I never. . ."
She smiled and laid a hand on his shoulder. "Yes, some of your life force has been drained away, and not restored. That is one reason you turned down the Zeo Powers. They could never have restored your life-force, because of the temporal flux you had put yourself in when restoring yourself to normal age. A part of your mind sensed this, and created feelings of disquiet and satisfaction with a non-combat role in order to give you a reason to turn down the power."
Kala shook her head. "No. You simply no longer have quite as much life force as you did. There is another reason, though, for you to have left the active fighting."
"Why?" could she possibly know why I did something that even I can't explain sometimes?
"Because it was your time to," she said simply. At the look of utter disbelief in his eyes, she continued. "Has it not been said in one of your great books, that 'to everything there is a season'?" he nodded slowly. "Your time as a Ranger has passed," she explained. "Your time as their helper is passing as well."
Billy bit his lip. "And when that happens?"
"When that happens, you will be presented with a choice," she rose up to her full height, and stared directly into his eyes. "And upon that choice will rest more than you can possibly imagine at this moment. But know this: all things come and go in this world. Each thing you experience, everything you live through, is but to prepare you for the next. Your experiences as a Power Ranger were to prepare you for . . .something else."
"What?" he was mesmerized by her eyes, as deep and dark as the depths of space, glinting with. . .something he could not name.
"You will know, in time," she brushed her fingertips by his forehead lightly. "All in good time. It is morning, young one. Your friends are worried about you. Go to them."
He stood up, as the house melted away to leave them both standing in the middle of the woods. "Thank you, Kala," he said simply. "You really helped me."
"It is my pleasure, Billy," she smiled. "We shall meet again."
"Indeed," she nodded. "In good time. All in good time, Billy."
Then even as he watched, she faded away as well. Billy stood watching where she had been, then turned to see he was no longer in the woods. He stood just outside his own house, and Tommy was running up to him. "Billy!" the Red Ranger called out. "You okay, we couldn't get ahold of you at all after you went home last night!"
"I'm fine," the young genius smiled. "Did you guys need me for something?"
"No, we were just having a get-together at Adam's," Tommy told him. "We wanted you to come, but no one could find you! Everyone's worried!"
Billy realized that just a day before, he would have been resentful of their worry, believing that they didn't think he could take care of himself, or worried that he couldn't. But now, he just accepted it. My time has passed. Theirs hasn't. All in good time. All in good time.
"Come on, they're gonna want to know you're all right!" Tommy started to pull his friend down the street, and Billy went willingly. There was a peace in his heart he had been searching for, and had at last found.
As the two old friends headed away, a mystic pair of eyes watched them go. Yes, Billy. Your time as a Ranger has passed. But not your time as a hero. More still remains. Much more.
All in good time.